Five Fantasy Football Sleepers Wide Receivers
Following up the Five Legitimate Running Back Fantasy Football Sleepers piece, we now turn out attention to fantasy football wide receiver sleepers. Sleeper candidates work a little different at the wide receiver position because we are not exactly expecting WR1 production from the waiver wire or late round wide receiver selections. This list of players is full of guys who have the ability to be put in good situations by injury or playing time shaking out in their favor and could end up being start-candidates in 12-team PPR leagues.
Wide Receiver Fantasy Football Sleepers
Byron Pringle, Kansas City Chiefs
Much has been written and discussed about Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman and even Demarcus Robinson on this very website. However, it has not been Hardman or Robinson who played first-team reps in OTA’s with Sammy Watkins missing practice for a personal matter. It has, in fact, been Byron Pringle who has been playing first-team snaps with Patrick Mahomes. The former undrafted free agent from Kansas State University is a speedster who ran a 4.46 40 at 205 pounds at the combine. Pringle has yet to play a down for the Chiefs that wasn’t a preseason snap after spending last season on the IR (most likely as a way for the Chiefs to hold on to him). While Pringle is not draftable as of yet, it seems possible that he starts out the season as the fourth-string wide receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs and if he flashes, he could play over Robinson or Hardman as neither are entrenched starters on the best offense in football.
DJ Chark, Jacksonville Jaguars
I am of the firm belief that Dede Westbrook and DJ Chark are being massively undervalued by the fantasy football community and both are legit fantasy football sleepers. The market has caught on to the fact that Dede Westbrook is likely to be the cheapest 120-target wide receiver in the draft. However, Chark goes undrafted in most DRAFT Best Balls and 12-team PPR leagues. Chark has been standing out at team OTA’s and it would make sense for the team to use him as their WR2 on the boundary for most of the season. Their base set projects to be Westbrook/Chark/Marquise Lee but Chark has the skill set that is most attractive to fantasy players. Chark averaged over 21 yards per reception at LSU, was a second-round draft pick, should be playing with a more fantasy-friendly offensive coordinator in 2019 and has legit 4.35 speed. Chark is one of my most invested-in players at this point and I will continue to pile on him if he remains free in redraft leagues.
Gary Jennings, Seattle Seahawks
Look, we are all intrigued by D.K Metcalf and it is certainly possible that he turns into a star in this league at some point. For the short-term, I have significant concerns about his route-running ability. He really only succeeded on three routes at Ole Miss and early returns from OTA’s don’t seem great. Jennings has not played much during OTA’s because of nagging hamstring injury but outside of Tyler Lockett, almost nothing is decided in terms of target share for Seahawks wide receivers. Jennings going 100 picks after D.K Metcalf in best ball leagues makes sense because we can be more assured of Metcalf’s playing time. In weekly management leagues, where there is no penalty for dropping a player, Jennings makes a pretty interesting late-round flyer. At the very least, I am interested in investing in cheap Seahawks pass catchers because 1) Russell Wilson is one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL and 2) the target share is so undetermined that someone completely free might get 85 targets.
Dylan Cantrell, Los Angeles Chargers
Those in the know, know Dylan Cantrell. He stayed on the Chargers practice squad for most of last season before being promoted to the active roster (but not catching a pass). Chargers insiders quietly believe that he has the ability to win the third wide receiver job over the wildly inconsistent Travis Benjamin. Cantrell stands 6’3″, 226 pounds with 4.59 speed. Cantrell played at Texas Tech under Kliff Kingsbury and caught 158 passes including 71 during his senior season with 18 career touchdowns. The third wide receiver in the Chargers offense has received 65, 62, 75 and 65 targets the last four seasons. However, that was with players like Tyrell and Mike Williams sharing time, Danny Woodhead and Antonio Gates in the mix and even a year of Steve Johnson splitting time with Malcom Floyd. With Gates retired and no strict pass-catching back, I expect the target tree to be a bit more narrow for the Chargers in 2019 with Hunter Henry, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams owning the lions share. If Cantrell wins the number three job outright (a real possibility), his target projection might end up closer to 70 pretty high-value targets in an elite offense.
John Ross, Cincinnati Bengals
For the second straight year, you’re being delivered John Ross fantasy football sleepers propaganda from the fantasy football talking heads. Ross somehow scored seven touchdowns on only 51 targets last season while Tyler Boyd had a career year. There was brief news of the team trying to trade the former first-round pick from Washington but it seems that new coach Zac Taylor has found something to unlock in Ross. Reports from Bengals OTA’s have been that the offensive players have been having fun with their new offensively-minded head coach and that the organization has some confidence in Ross to play opposite A.J Green. Is any of these kind words a guarantee that Ross will play a meaningful role? Of course not. However, when wagering on later round picks, I am turning my eye towards former first-round draft picks with at least one outstanding skill. Ross still owns the record as the fastest player in NFL combine history and if this new Bengals offense is actually #fun, it stands to reason that Ross will have a usable fantasy football season.
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